A man clears debris after Israeli airstrikes hit a house in Rafah, Gaza on November 13, 2019. Credit: Anadolu Agency
The United Nations Relief and Works (UNRWA) has expressed its grief over the recent killing by Israeli forces of one of its schoolchildren in the blockaded Gaza Strip.
Ameer Rafat Ayad breathed his last during the latest Israeli escalation on the coastal enclave which claimed the lives of over 34 Palestinians, including eight children, according to the UN agency.
“We are truly saddened by the killing of one of our young students. Ameer Rafat Ayad was in second grade at the UNRWA Zaitoon Elementary School,” said Matthias Schmale, Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza.
“It is completely unacceptable for civilians, especially children, to lose their lives in this terrible way; children who should be studying, enjoying their childhood and preparing for their future,” added the UN official.
“We have to recognize and address the psychological effects, the fear and the lasting trauma such escalations leave on the population,” said Schmale. “We remain in a heightened state of readiness and hope the ceasefire will last.”
Schmale also voiced UNRWA’s hope that its services would return to full operation shortly, saying: “The majority of the population in the Gaza Strip, 1.4 million out of 1.9 million people, are registered Palestine refugees who depend heavily on UNRWA for health, education, relief and protection services”.
UNRWA said it hopes that the ceasefire that was reached the night of 13 November will put an end to two days of escalation between Israel and Palestinian resistance groups in the Gaza Strip.
UNRWA said that its 22 health centers continued to operate throughout the hostilities, while the Agency closed its 276 schools across Gaza for three days in an attempt to minimize risks on its students and staff. The UNRWA Shijaya Co-ed Elem A and B School also sustained damage on 12 November due to its location near a home targeted in the attack by Israeli forces.